Salah (Ziad Abaza) is a politics student in Britain, whose family have emigrated from hardship in the Middle East some time back, but his father (Nayef Rashed) has been the proprietor of a kebab shop, though it's actually been his dream to open a high class restaurant producing the best cuisine from his homeland for British customers, rather than the pretty basic stuff served up in polystyrene cartons the late night patrons descend on during an evening out. However, Salah's father has been suffering from poor health recently, it's his heart, and he wishes he could persuade him to slow down and forget about the kebab shop. He agrees to help out, more for his father's benefit than his own, but it just takes one tragedy for a reasonable man to snap...
Sweeney Todd was the story most referred to when discussing K-Shop, since our anti-hero is driven to serving up his customers, well, his other customers, who are to a man and woman utterly obnoxious and worse the wear for drink. OK, not all of them, there are the occasional decent souls, but they are few and far between as for the most part the shop is invaded with beery, sweary, aggressive and loud morons whose sense of being entitled on a night out to behave as dreadfully as possible has already been grating on Salah's nerves even before a group of them have an altercation with his father and leave him dying of a cardiac arrest on the pavement outside.
It's this steady drip, drip, drip of tension and stress that wears Salah down, especially when the men who caused his father's manslaughter go unpunished, and the further this went on the more you felt writer and director Dan Pringle warming to his subject, to the extent that it probably went on far longer than it needed to as the themes were expounded and enlarged upon. The main point was that he wanted to highlight the drinking culture in twenty-first century Britain that told the revellers it was all right to get away from the daily grind of the working week to act like utter savages come Friday night, mainly because this compulsion to have "fun" was having not only terrible health effects, but terrible social effects as well.
You had the impression we were supposed to be backing Salah in his drive to wash the scum off the streets, which starts when a lone, drunken customer starts cooking his own chips behind the counter and in a bid to get him to stop, there is a struggle that sees the boorish young chap with his head in the fat fryer and very dead as a result (er, almost). Panicking, grief for his deceased parent sending him around the bend, Salah stashes the body in the basement, then has a brainwave, and chops up and minces the corpse, then throws the bones out to sea in the early hours. But what to do with the flesh? Sweeney Todd, yes, he makes it into kebabs and feeds it to the patrons of his establishment who are less than discriminating, then decides he is doing the world a favour by offing the worst of society.
So he becomes a serial killer, only one with a mission for the community, more or less a mixture between Charles Bronson in Death Wish and Kathleen Turner in Serial Mom, only with a British twist. That would have probably been enough to build on for most filmmakers, but Pringle was ambitious, seeking to ask his questions through his protagonist about why so many are so wedded to such awful activities of a weekend: there are scenes of actual clubbers staggering about the streets in among the staged business, and they are barely distinguishable from the faked material. However, thankfully the director also acknowledged that murder was not the best way to go about eradicating the problems, and it takes its toll on Salah who grows fixated on the wealthy nightclub owner who is opening a new club across the street and who Pringle evidently blames at least partly for him and his ilk encouraging the oblivion that is the goal for too many of the sort he depicted. It was an angry film, bravely taking on an issue that was too often simply accepted as just one of those things, and if it tended towards the didactic then subtlety probably wouldn't have got the job done. Music by Nina Humphreys.